Brad Sonntag: A Hidden Hero

 

Brad Sonntag is not exactly a daily household name. If you've never heard of him you are probably not alone. He is a 5 ft 8 and 176 pound fifth year year senior for the Michigan State Spartans football team. This was his first season as the holder for the kicker.
 
Yes, an article about the holder.
 
I had the pleasure of meeting Brad a few times this past season in my visits to Michigan State with Coach Mike Pruchnicki. We watched practice a number of times and for some reason Brad always stood out, even though he is the shortest guy on the team. He was a tireless worker, always staying afterwards to run routes with other receivers or defensive backs. You could readily observe his amazing attitude about everything, his willingness to do anything for the team, his desire to improve ...
 
And after 4 long years of playing division one football he had appeared in only 11 games (in 2 seasons) primarily in special teams roles ... 4 years of work to be on the field for less than 10 seconds. In high school Brad was a star QB , player of the year leading his team to the State Championship.
 
In our "all about me" society it would have been easy for Brad to check out a long time ago.
 
But he is the type of athlete pretty much every coach on earth would like to have on their team - A VIRTUOUS ONE: Self-less, dedicated, persevering, loyal, noble, humble ...
 
Yesterday I was thrilled to be able to see Brad get some well-well-well deserved praise and attention. He helped his team win a Bowl Game for the first time since 2001. Here below are a few more details about the momentous occasion.
 
I suggest sharing this email with all of your coaches, parents and athletes. Another example of virtue paying off, virtue helping a team accomplish something great. 
 
Brad could have hung up his cleats a long time ago ... the coaches could have given up on Brad a long time ago ... I'm sure all are very happy they stuck together.
 
Brad Sonntag's steady hands the difference in Michigan State's 33-30 triple overtime win over Georgia in Outback Bowl
By Geoff Mott | The Saginaw News 
 
The fifth-year senior is a reserve wide receiver for the Spartans, but his crucial handling of the game-tying extra point and game-winning field goal as holder was the difference in the Spartans thrilling 33-30 triple overtime win over Georgia in Monday's Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla.
 
Moore's snap skipped into the grass in front of Sonntag, who calmly scooped up the ball and delivered the hold for Conroy's game-tying extra point kick.
 
Neither team scored in the first overtime as Cousins threw an interception and Georgia missed a game-winning field goal attempt. Georgia kicker Blair Walsh knocked in a 47-yard field goal in the second overtime for the 30-27 lead, but Sonntag put down a snap to his inside that gave Conroy a 35-yard field goal for the tie.
 
In the third overtime, MSU got the ball first and scored on Conroy's 28-yard field goal. Moore's snap was high on Sonntag, who reached up and quickly got the ball down for the kick. Walsh's 47-yard field goal for the tie was blocked and Sonntag and the Spartans celebrated their first bowl victory in 10 years.
 
Sonntag credits coaching for being able to react in that situation.
 
“About midway through every practice, (Michigan State quarterback coach Dave Warner) takes me aside and fires snaps at me,” Sonntag said. “It's a bad snap period and he fires them here and there on me. That gets me ready.”
 
The practice paid off and the world got to see it on display in the Outback Bowl. Normally a quiet position until the holder messes up, Sonntag got instant accolades. ABC announcer Mike Tirico suggested after Sonntag's hold in the second overtime that the former Nouvel Catholic Central standout should be the game's Most Valuable Player.
 
“I had about 20 to 30 texts after the game with people telling me (about Tirico's comments),” Sonntag said. “When you don't know who the holder is, you've done a great job. I guess today was my day to shine as a holder.
 
“But I was just doing my job. That's one of the small parts of the team that I do and I do that job well. I help ease the minds of the coaches with having a fifth year guy there. You don't have to worry about bad snaps. I'll get it done.”
 
Sonntag and his senior teammates lingered around Raymond James Stadium for nearly 20 minutes after the game. The satisfaction of completing a mission they had started as freshmen was just sinking in.
 
“That scene in the locker room is hard to put into words,” Sonntag said. “You put in five years of work to go out on top and we went out and beat a very good SEC team. All this hard work with a 105 guys coming together and getting this big win for (Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio) is huge.
 
“It's absolutely crucial for our juniors, sophomores and freshmen moving forward.”